As you can see, this is First, Do No Harm.
As mentioned in the recent Washington Post article, this site was conceived in the aftermath of three posts I wrote regarding the death of my mother, for the Shapely Prose blog, entitled Fat Hatred Kills.
When I wrote the series, I had no idea what I expected to happen. Mostly, I just wanted to express my anger over my mother’s death, which perhaps could have been prevented with proper medical care, to people who would understand what I was talking about when I said that fat is not a disease.
I was in no way prepared for the onslaught of stories similar to my own that arrived in the comments to those posts. Over and over came the same refrains:
– Fat people whose very real ailments went misdiagnosed and/or mistreated, if they were treated at all, because their doctors were too busy judging their fat bodies to do their jobs
– Fat people whose previous experiences with medical professionals had terrorized them so badly that they were afraid to seek medical care, no matter how badly they might truly need it, so that even life-threatening conditions were going untreated, sometimes for years at a time.
Even now, half a year later, I generally wind up in tears whenever I look through those comments.
All I see are the brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins, friends, neighbors… the men and women who are needlessly suffering and sometimes dying, all because there are some doctors out there who believe that some of their patients deserve proper treatment, and some of their patients deserve lectures, scorn and occasionally open loathing.
Is it any wonder then, that many fat patients would literally rather die, than risk going to see a doctor when they are sick?
The other thing we saw, over and over, was that so many victims of medical professional harassment thought they were alone. That they were the only ones who had been treated so poorly, and in fact many had been convinced that they deserved no better.
I spent much of July 12, 2007 weeping. For myself, for my mom, and for all the people like us – people suffering, people dying, families torn apart.
And when at last I dried my tears, I emailed Kate and said, “We have to do something.”
First, Do No Harm is that something.
As long as fat prejudice remains hidden, it flourishes. So we have created a place where men and women can share their stories, to bring the ugly truth of fat hatred to light. Here we seek to provide resources, so those who have been harassed by a medical professional can learn how and where to report these incidents, in the hopes of ensuring that all patients, fat or thin, receive proper medical care when they require it.
So welcome to First, Do No Harm. If you feel you have been mistreated by a health care professional due to the size of your body, you can find resources on how to lodge a complaint here. And if you have a story you’d like to share, please feel free to email us at fathealth at gmail dot com.
Barbara Benesch-Granberg (aka Thorn)